EU criticizes measures against HDP co-chairs

The European Union has criticized measures taken in Turkey against the co-chairs of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, saying they “add to the concerns” of the institution.

Yüksekdağ, who has been in jail for three months on terror charges, has lost her parliamentary status after being given a prison sentence received in a previous case. Demirtaş, meanwhile, was sentenced on Feb. 21 to five months in prison on charges of “denigrating the Turkish nation, the Turkish Republic and the institutions of the state.”

“The measures taken against three Members of Parliament of the HDP, including both of its co-chairs, further add to the concerns expressed both following the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s adoption last May of a law allowing the immunity of a large number of deputies to be lifted as well as in the wake of ensuing detentions and arrests of several HDP Members of Parliament, including its two co-chairs,” read the statement released by the European Commission Spokesperson.

The statement also stressed “Turkey’s commitments and its status as a candidate country.”

“The full and effective participation of all democratically elected political parties in the legislature is an essential element of Turkey’s international commitments and its status as a candidate country,” it added.

At the moment, a total of 12 lawmakers and Yüksekdağ from the HDP are under arrest, facing hundreds of years in jail over their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Saying the EU repeatedly expressed its concern on practices that would weaken the rule of law, the statement noted that the institution was continuing to monitor the situation.

“The EU has repeatedly expressed its concern regarding developments that could weaken the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and parliamentary democracy in Turkey. The EU, together with the Council of Europe, continues to follow and assess the situation very closely in the framework of its comprehensive engagement with Turkey,” it added.

The HDP recently applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the continued arrest of its co-leaders.

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